Family Services of Tulare County is grateful for donations of basic necessities as they continue to see a rise in domestic violence cases
VISALIA – Domestic violence seems to be at an all time high without any relief in sight. Each year, Bank of America raises donations of basic necessities to help relieve pressure from local domestic violence shelters and bring awareness to the community.
“It takes a whole community,” Family Services CEO Caity Meader said. “I think people think of domestic violence as a private issue or a family matter. And this is just one more way we appreciate Bank of America, for stepping out and demonstrating that it takes everybody in the community in different ways to help break the cycle of violence.”
Family Services of Tulare County helps anywhere from 150-200 people each year. Their mission is to help children, adults, and families throughout Tulare County heal from domestic violence and thrive in healthy relationships.
Family Services is a nonprofit organization that accepts donations in all forms. Shelters like these usually lack the most basic necessities like sanitary products, diapers, clothing and food products. Meader expressed her gratitude for Bank of America and other organizations and individuals that donate “high needs” items, because it allows the nonprofit to spend money in other areas that need the help.
“Every time we don’t have to spend funds on basic needs items, that gives us more flexibility to pay for services for these folks that ensure that they have every opportunity to really see a significant life change,” Meader said.
This year the Bank of America donation is especially helpful seeing as Family Services has been busier than ever. Bank of America will dropped off around 100 hygiene kits to Family Services on Thursday, March 31. These kits will then be distributed throughout different areas of the program on a need basis. It will also help prepare for the arrival of new families and provide them with what they need to feel more comfortable.
There has been such an increase in needed services this year. Add on top distancing protocols and Family Services has had to put families up in motels more than ever before. Naturally these motel vouchers are an additional expense.
Meader has worked in the industry for 20 years and she has never seen it like this. The amount of crisis calls for service has taken an 86% jump from January 2019 to January 2022, but it doesn’t stop there. Since January of this year, Family Services are continuing to see an increase of 15% month over month according to Meader.
“Many families have experienced a significant amount of trauma over the last couple of years that put additional strain on relationships. And we are definitely seeing that truth come through in our numbers,” Meader said.
Some of these cases are referred to Family Services via the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department high risk team. The high risk team assesses individuals to determine whether they are considered “high risk” or not. These individuals will then be given information on what Family Services has to offer regardless of risk status. This program is a good way to bring awareness to individuals who may not think their situation is a problem.
In lieu of families sheltering in place at the beginning of the pandemic, Family Services implemented a chat line in addition to their calling hotline option. This online chat option allowed for several individuals in danger to talk to a trained domestic violence advocate without making a phone call. Family Services has seen a huge boom in cases via this method of communication. According to Meader, this chat is seeing individuals from not only Tulare County, but also individuals all over the country that are in need of help. Family services is looking ahead to hopefully be able to broaden their horizons to more than Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Because it’s been so successful, we’re hopeful to be able to expand it to 24/7 and also expand it to sexual assault survivors,” Meader said.
With this boom in domestic violence cases, Family Services is doing what they can to open up more room for more available beds at their shelter. Meader explained that this issue has grown “exponentially, really fast” and they are doing what they can to keep up with this demand.
“We encourage people to look at this as it’s not just an issue of an individual family, it can absolutely be a community based issue. Because when we see violence in the home, that is the type of violence that spills out into schools and into public places and workplaces,” Meader explained. “We want people to know that safety in the home is also a public safety issue.”
Visit FSTC.net for all donation inquiries, basic information, hotline phone number or to chat with an advocate.